Monday, April 20, 2009

Mountain Meadows Massacre: Every-Day Lessons for Our Time

When the movie “September Dawn” was released a while ago, then when newspaper articles were written about the 150th anniversary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, I read a few of them - and the comments about them. I quickly stopped doing so, specifically because of what I saw on both sides - the vitriol that came from those who use any excuse to spew bile about the Church, but also the reactions of the Mormons who tried to defend the Church.

What I saw disturbed me deeply.

Each side was lashing out at a perceived threat - one side swinging verbal hay-makers at the Church, and the other side swinging just as energetically back at them. There were no dead bodies - no bullets or other tangible weapons, but these people were reacting essentially in the exact same way that the local members had with the Mountain Meadows Massacre so long ago. There really wasn’t a life-threatening attack on the Church occurring, and there really wasn’t a need for a “counterattack” on the perceived attackers.

I loathe the tactics of the bitter, anti-Mormon crowd, but I am saddened much more over the members who were lashing out in defensiveness over an attack that really wasn’t a serious threat to themselves. When all is said and done, if we don’t learn from history we are destined to repeat it - even if there are no tangible weapons involved in our own "battles".

Matthew 5:44-46 is direct, and it applies to so many situations in our lives:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?


Unknown said...

I think Mountain Meadows is a modern tale morality tale that ought to be told and retold in church. This is a part of our history, a moment that can't be forgotten. We have to remember that members aren't perfect, and that anger, hate and fear can cause people to get so far from Christ that they would fall to this level.

There is no defense against what happened: it was a very serious mistake, and it can and should be a lesson we take to heart.

Vince and Denise said...

I have one phrase for you..." The spirit of contention is of the Devil"

This is something that I personally have struggled with. I am a very emotional person, and when I feel someone is attacking me (even if they aren't) I go on the defensive and attack back. I think this is how most of people react. It is very disturbing to see people counterattack, when we should just show love to one another. But isn't this what Satan wants?

There is a new favorite bumperstick that I solely states "coexist"

I can't wait until this happens. :)

Papa D said...

"We have to remember that members aren't perfect, and that anger, hate and fear can cause people to get so far from Christ that they would fall to this level."

Dominic, well said.

"It is very disturbing to see people counterattack, when we should just show love to one another."

V&N, good to hear from you - and I agree completely. I hope all is well in your new home.

Stephen said...

I love the scripture you quoted.

Anonymous said...

I like D&C 98: 23-47. If only...

KrizteeTrain said...

On the other side of things, I can clearly understand why many LDS felt threatened by the anti- crowd and wanted to counter attack. I do not agree with bickering, ever, but I think it is uderstdable in this instance.

Usually, we are defending ourselves against accusations of polygamy or racism or something, and that tends to be easier. For me, anyway, when I saw September Dawn, it actually took me awhile to realize who the Mormons even were. When I discovered we were the sinister people always dressed in black I was very surprised and embarassed, to say the least. AND I know the history...but the depiction just seemed so base that I couldn't help but feel bad.

I think may Mormons might have some of these same feelings, making rebuttals "feel" all the more warranted.

Christy said...

"What would Jesus do?" may be an overused phrase, but an important one. It has helped me stiffle many "children of men" reactions. If we are taking the name of Christ, we need to react like Christ. What has taken me a loooong time to learn, is that my initial reaction is NOT the right one, it is the worldly one. I must soak it in, prayerfully process it, and wait for help. And, like you, sometimes you have to walk away from the arguement. I think this may be part of the reason why the General Authorities have emphasized the need for a positive attitude during the last two conferences.